Uncommon Nonsense

blairguild

Evelyn Oliver (center), playing Alice Little, and other cast members (left to right) Erik Fliegauf, Jack McCauliffe, Ashley Olafsen, Henry Vumbaca, and Taylor Forsmo prepare the "Growing and Shrinking scene" for the original HHS production of Uncommon Nonsense. The scene is based in a theatrical game in which a new actor enters the stage to create a new scene. As more players are added and new scenes emerge, they eventually exit the stage and the scenes are recycled. Photo by Blair Guild
Evelyn Oliver (center), playing Alice Little, and other cast members (left to right) Erik Fliegauf, Jack McCauliffe, Ashley Olafsen, Henry Vumbaca, and Taylor Forsmo prepare the “Growing and Shrinking scene” for the HHS production of Uncommon Nonsense. The scene is based in a theatrical game in which a new actor enters the stage to create a new scene. As more players are added and new scenes emerge, they eventually exit the stage and the scenes are recycled. Photo by Blair Guild

By Blair Guild
After a successful production of Les Miserables this past Fall, the Hopkinton High School drama ensemble has begun to work on their Spring production. Instead of getting the rights to a play, drama teacher and director Valerie Von Rosenvinge decided to have the students write an original work. The working title of the show is Uncommon Nonsense.

The work takes on elements of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Each student was asked to read the two classic novels and to contemplate how they could be translated into a stage version. After a few rehearsals practicing movement, tapping into emotions, and discussing different directions for the adaptation, the cast and Von Rosenvinge reached the decision that the play would take place in a theater realm.

“I didn’t want to remake Alice in Wonderland. I wanted to do something else but I didn’t know what it was yet. So I came up with the idea of a third realm… I though the third realm should be something theatrical,” Von Rosenvinge said. “It was an epiphany that Alice gets trapped behind a ‘fourth wall’ as in theater. And then it evolved from there. Essentially from that point on I got Alice into the world, and now I’m letting the students go with their ideas.”

The show opens to show a group of students auditioning for a college theater program. As they finish their auditions, the frazzled Alice Little, played by junior Evelyn Oliver, enters the audition tardy. From here, she falls into a mysterious realm that she begins to explore.

In this new place, Alice encounters her nemesis: Mia the diva, played by junior Emma Howe. Through this encounter and others, Alice discovers herself and the world around her.

“My interpretation of Alice is that she is a very curious, very confused girl who is thrown into a bunch of whacky situations. She has to test herself continually while trying to understand her predicaments,” Oliver said.

“My favorite aspect about the show is our creative writing process and how we’ve created this from scratch. We’ve taken interesting ideas and created fully fleshed out scenes from them,” she added.

The Drama Ensemble comes to rehearsal everyday and writes different scenes for the show. Presently, act one of the play is complete and is being edited. Act two has yet to be written, but the students are combining their talents and working hard to write it promptly. Senior Benjamin Card plays a large role in writing the play, but will not be acting.

“Since I’m not interested in actually performing in the show, I have the unique ability to sit around and aid in the writing of some crucial scenes without the conflict of interest that would arise if I were writing for my own character,” Card said. “What we’re doing is communally working on the play, act by act, theme by theme, scene by scene, line by line, taking the aggregate average of everybody’s ideas and input and drafting the greatest possible result we can pull together from those.”

Like many of the students helping to write the show, Card eagerly awaits the end result and maintains high expectations.

“I expect the show to be an intriguing mix of absurdist concepts, dramatic deconstruction, and ‘play of ideas’. I’m feeling a creative energy in it that laces the entire thing and gives it humor, certainly, but also lets us explore some pretty dark, pretty realistic themes. The final product is going to be impressive,” Card added.

Opening night for Uncommon Nonsense is Thursday March 7th, with additional performances on Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th. Until the premier of this original work, the students and Von Rosenvinge will continue to create and prepare the play with high hopes for the final product.

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